I'm a cold hearted bitch.
A while back a house guest was looking through my games for something for us to play, and noticed El Caballero on the shelf.
"That's a good game," she said.
"I don't like it," I told her, "You can have it if you want it."
"No thanks," she replied,"I don't like it much either."
"Let's play Talisman," I suggested.
"Talisman is so chaotic and random, we might as well just roll a die, see who's highest, and call it a day."
"Sorry, I thought you liked Talisman."
"I do, but it is a bad game. I rather spend my time playing something more worthwhile."
Then my head spun around like that chick in the exorcist.
I was confounded and bewildered. How can you say that a game you don't like is a "good" game, but a game you do like is a "bad" game? Clearly I was missing something.
So I crawled out of my cave, looked around and discovered there were these things called "Game Clubs," and "Game Groups," and "Game Nights." People went to these to meet other "gamers" and play games. More importantly, they discussed games. Not only were people discussing games in person, they were also discussing them on the internet. Through these discussions, a set of objective criteria had evolved by which it could be determined whether a game was objectively "good," or "bad." These criteria included elements such as randomness, meaningful decisions, player interaction, perfect information, playing time, and elegance. Apparently benchmarks had been set. It took me a while to determine what these benchmarks were, but eventually, I think I figured it out. I may be mistaken, but it seemed that Chess and Go were towards the top of the scale, Monopoly was towards the bottom, and, the most important benchmark of all was Settlers of Catan. Games whose various criteria fell above Settlers and Chess were "good" games. Games whose criteria fell below Settlers were "bad" games. It was an epiphany. Here I had been happily playing Talisman, Arkham Horror and Merchants of Venus, unaware that these were "bad" games.
I decided that I had to find more worthwhile games. In fact. I decided I had to find the best game. After years of searching, I finally found it: Hey, That's My Fish.
Hey, That's my Fish has variable set-up. I learned that that's important for replayability. All this time I had been playing games on the same board, over and over. I'm such a dope. It has perfect information. That sounds impressive doesn't it - PERFECT INFORMATION. Player interaction. Yep. Meaningful decisions. Yep. Short playing time, and short rules. Absolutely. I think you can teach someone to play in about a minute and a half, and the whole game takes only about ten minutes to play. And most importantly, zero randomness (well except for the set-up, which, I am told, is an allowable randomness).
In Hey, That's my Fish, you play a penguin trying to catch fish, while attempting to set all the other penguins adrift on small ice floes, so that they can't get any fish, and die or something. I know kids who like this game. I know adults who like this game. I know adults who like playing this game with kids. But, crap, I just don't like it. I really tried, but I just don't give a damn about my penguin. Shouldn't I feel something? I should feel happy when my penguin gets a two fish tile, instead of a one fish tile, right? I should feel bummed when he is set adrift, facing certain death on that tiny ice floe, shouldn't I? I should at least feel annoyed that my stupid penguin can't swim? If he could swim, he could just jump off that ice floe and save himself, right? Maybe I am supposed to feel compassion for him or something, because of his disability?
So, Hey That's My Fish is a good game, but I don't like it. My friends think it's because I'm too stupid to understand it's depth of play. But the truth is, I'm just a cold hearted bitch that doesn't give a damn about my lame penguin.
Wednesday, 30 May 2007
I'm a cold hearted bitch.